Today’s Family Lawyer had the pleasure of interviewing Adam Armstrong, clerk at Westgate Chambers.
Please tell us a little about you and life before becoming a clerk
Before joining Westgate Chambers, I was the Circuit Judge listing Clerk at Brighton Family Court. Managing the clerking of 4 busy Circuit Judges diaries and working closely with the Designated Family Judge to implement change to maximise efficiency of the court diary. I ran a team of 14 members of staff and regularly arranged meetings with Barristers Chambers in an effort to provide transparency and assist the Bar with the listing of their cases. Westgate Chambers allowed me to transfer my knowledge and skill set to now clerking nearly 30 Family Barristers
I married my now wife, Nicola in 2011, and we have two small children, Amelie and Harry.
How long have you been a clerk?
I have been a clerk, and worked at Westgate Chambers for 12 years. In my time as a Barristers Clerk, whilst pre and post pandemic UK look very different, the job remains to provide an excellent service to our Solicitor client base. I have learned a great deal in my 12 years as a clerk, and I continue to enjoy the atmosphere in Chambers and working with like minded colleagues and Counsel.
Is there such a thing as a ‘normal’ day for you, if so what does it look like?
I’m not sure there is! I have several constants in my day which are ensuring that Counsels diaries are managed efficiently, liaising with Solicitor clients, allocating cases and agreeing Counsels Brief Fees. I also am also part of a team of clerks that undertake the billing of Counsels work (both private and legal aid) – as well as marketing Chambers and assisting Chambers Senior Clerk, Sean Gould and Deputy Senior Clerk, Stuart Taylor in the smooth running of Chambers.
What has been some stand out moments for you in your 10 years?
I have several stand out moments and continue to enjoy hearing such wonderful feedback about Chambers and the service the clerks team provide to its Solicitor clients. I work closely with several of Chambers clients and it is always a pleasure to speak with them. I remain committed to solving the eternal issue of having too much work and not enough barristers!
A real highlight last year, was when Westgate Chambers Clerking Team was shortlisted as a Finalist for Clerking Team of the Year at the Lexis Nexis Family Law Awards. It was a big thing for me personally, as I understand that feedback from Solicitor clients assisted us in our shortlisting. The great feedback we continue to receive always puts a smile on my face.
How would your barristers (and perhaps other clerks) describe you?
I am a quiet person with a keen eye for detail and a drive to problem solve. I have been referred to as many people’s ‘go to’ which is extremely pleasing to here. I enjoy working at Westgate Chambers, as all of the Clerking Team support each other and drive the business forward collectively.
How would the solicitors you liaise with describe you?
I enjoy doing my job and have continue to build relationships with Family Lawyers that instruct Chambers. They have kindly described me as professional, yet friendly and approachable.
What skills do you believe you need to have to be successful at your role?
Being a Barristers Clerk can mean you need to be everything to everyone. We allocate work, bill and chase Counsels Fees. We market Counsel and Chambers and we arrange seminars and education programmes…. My thoughts on what is required to be successful in my role is a willingness to be open and to be understanding. To be a good negotiator and to be efficient and transparent. Not every piece of news we give to Family Lawyers is good news (sadly!) but if, on occasion, we do need to provide bad news, ensure that you provide it sensitively, whilst ensuring that you are doing all you can for the lay and professional client.
For anyone interested in becoming a clerk, what would you say to them, what advice would you give?
In this job you can work with some of the sharpest legal minds and innovators within Family Law. Members of my Chambers have chaired the Family Law Bar Association and sit on steering committees that ensure that cases are kept on track and in line with legislation. You will work with colleagues that can share their experience of clerking and life with you, that helps you grow as a person. You may also get the opportunity to travel and visit some different parts of the country when attending marketing events or seminars. This job provides you with a great life experience. The profession needs more clerks, and my advice to anyone thinking about a career in clerking would be to grab any opportunity you can with both hands.
Thank you so much Adam, we have loved getting to know you more in this interview!